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Topics - sdbaynham

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Developer Job Board / The Stark Reality
« on: Jan 04, 12, 03:07:12 AM »
Hello, [New Game Developer]

Welcome to the world of independent and hobbyist video game development!  I know the possibilities are overwhelming you right now, and you might feel the need to immediately post every MMO idea you've ever had, but please consider the following before asking people to help you.  If you keep these things in mind you'll interact with people more easily and will be making great games in no time.

No one is getting paid.

When posting a recruitment ad, the topic of money always seems to come up, but it probably shouldn't.  Chances are very good that the game won't succeed, or will only partially succeed.  More importantly, new game companies require capital and chances are very good that most of the profit from even a relatively successful independent title will not find its way to its developers.  This is well-understood by your target audience and when you talk about profit sharing, you're essentially reminding us that we would demand compensation for our efforts if we were smarter, while simultaneous offering us nonexistant money for compensation.  You mean well, but it feels like you're scamming us.  

If you have cash over the barrelhead to offer, please do.  If you don't, I just wouldn't mention the topic.  Nobody ever responded to a recruitment ad with "But I get my cut when this sweet sweet moneymaker goes live, RIGHT?!"  If someone does, please don't recruit that person.

We play seriously.

Whether we see ourselves as independents or hobbyists, we take our work very seriously, and you should as well.  While some grammatical issues are understandable, as you may not be a native speaker of whatever language you are communicating in, show others how serious you are by doing your level best to use correct typography and clear communication.  Nobody wants a project lead who has issues communicating ideas with his team, so strive to show that you are not that person.

Additionally, saying things that make it clear that you are not prepared for the grueling work to come, setting unrealistic ambitions for your project, or just doing things that misunderstand the true nature of game development make your ad less attractive.  Things that raise red flags:

 - Being bizarrely protective of your game's design or principles shows that you believe that ideas are the currency of game development, rather than hard work.  (Hint: It's hard work.)
 - Calling your game AAA, comparing it favorably to a AAA title, and projecting adoption of your game using numbers typically reserved for AAA titles badly misunderstands what makes games AAA.  (Hint: It's money and man-hours.)
 - Referring to a loose collection of ideas as a design.   A good designer is the hardest-working member of the team, and should have in-depth understanding of the systems being developed.  The position likes to draw many non-designers who just have this totally awesome game idea and you should totally make a game like that.  If you aren't a real designer, no one will want to implement your design.
 - If it's not totally clear that you know you're signing up for several years of very hard work even to make a very conservative title, then you're heading for a serious implosion and no one here wants to be around when it happens.

No one has any reason to help you.

Chances are very good that you are not a great speaker and your words do not inspire other people to action on your say alone.  If you don't give us a very good reason to help you, we won't.  Nobody wants to flush their time down a drain, and we can all get pretty good satisfaction from working on our own projects on our own blade.  While we can accomplish more together in theory, if your project is a waste of time, then I will probably get more done on my own.

So if I'm the sort of person you'd like to recruit, and I have something to offer you, then your recruitment ad should be trying to answer the question what can you offer me?  

Can you offer a coherent vision, as a quality designer?  Very good- please make some outlines of your design (or all of it!) available so we can see that.  Make sure you show off your skills at designing systems and some of the cool principles backing your idea.
Do you have a team mostly assembled?  Great!  Personally, this is my biggest draw to a project.  Tell us what positions are already filled, and what positions still remain.
Are you already filling a vital role?  Neat!  Tell us a bit about yourself, perhaps post some snippets of your work.  The truth of the matter is that a 3D artist starting their own team always perks my ears up.  

In order of increasing trepidation, I tend to be suspicious toward team leaders who bill themselves as Concept Artist, HSL Programmer, Audio Engineer, Game Designer, and Project Managers/Economists/Some other business man.  Don't get me wrong, an excellent person filling any of these roles brings incredible value to a project.  But sometimes I get the impression that people billing themselves as such don't really fill these roles, they just don't want people to know that they're useless.  And I say this as an HSL Programmer.  :)  If you fill one of the above roles, it's really important that you show people some of your work so they know that you're the real deal and not just an imposter.

If the answer is that you can't offer any of the above, the question you need to ask yourself is why you are a necessary part of the equation in your own team.  If you aren't, maybe you shouldn't be starting one.  Don't worry- all is not lost.  Many people have hidden talents.  Try out HSL, try out creating 3D assets, try everything.  Join teams, build your skills, learn from others.  Just don't try to start your own project until you're sure that you're bringing something other than a vague collection of ideas.

Good luck, and I hope you stick with it!
Stephen

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